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Suggestions for "First P1 flight" post PPL Pass..

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Suggestions for "First P1 flight" post PPL Pass..

Old 23rd Sep 2014, 08:18
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: London
Age: 55
Posts: 47
I passed my PPL last year, but to be honest I lacked a lot of confidence.

I suffered a couple of snafus very soon after my test as P1, one was a broken radio where I had to transmit blind to get back in, and the other was a brake failure. It was definitely a baptism of fire, but that is what you're trained for, but it didn't help my confidence.

My PPL training was done over five months, and I wasn't a quick learner, taking 75 hours. That also meant that I felt I needed a few weeks off to recooperate both mentally and financially. The main thing that got me back into the plane was that the club needed 28 days flight currency.

So I did a couple of flights as P1 post PPL, one by myself was a local flight more to keep currency than anything else, and the other was to take the missus up, and I was far more sh!t scared than she was!

But by far most of my immediate post-PPL flying was with an instructor, including difference training onto a new a/c (C152 to PA28) that took about 2 1/2 hours and IMC rating training.

Being Fairoaks based, my immediate goal was to do an SVFR transit through the Heathrow CTR, as well as land at a brand new airport that I'd never been to. It seems a bit basic a year later, but I really did lack confidence at the time, and for many months afterwards. I went out with a new instructor to test myself out on both of those goals but I was very overloaded, flying Fairoaks, SVFR Ascot-Burnham, Luton transit, landing at Sywell, £300 cup of coffee, and back the same way. It was too much, there was no way it was going to sink in.

So I next went out on my own to Sywell but avoiding CAS. After another go SVFR with an instructor, I prepared some flash cards for the radio and went for it. For the first few times doing the Heathrow CTR transit it was hard, with the brain at its limit, but now it's much easier and I feel a lot more comfortable doing it. And be prepared for rejection! Although you do usually get clearance, occasionally you don't or are offered a different route, so be prepared and make sure your radio is snappy, you might get rejected if your patter ain't up to scratch, remember the ATCOs are also often in a relatively high workload situation and the last thing they want is someone fumbling about accidentally busting airspace.

In retrospect, my biggest mistake though was to go almost immediately into further training with an instructor, including both the difference training and the IMC rating. The problem was that I was not confident or experienced enough with the basics of the PPL to embark on the IMC rating where there's a lot of radio to do, something I struggled with. I found myself in extremely high workload situations on IMC approaches, particularly NDB approaches, and almost always found the training wasn't sinking in because of my lack of mental capacity.

So I shelved the IMC training after about six months. I am glad I did. I now go out once or twice a week in my own time and at my own pace. I also usually try out a new destination a couple of times each month to get over another of my phobias, that of landing away, and I transit the Heathrow CTR about once each week: pushing myself at the difficult things has really helped, and most importantly for me, I am doing it without an instructor to prop me up.

One other thing I learned immediately post-PPL is that planning is everthing. If I'm going somewhere new, it can take me an hour or two to prepare. A route I'm familiar with will take five or ten minutes. While SkyDemon helps a great deal, you still need to do the grunt work of figuring out local nuances at the destination or en route, such as PPR, standard approaches and departures, or specific routings, eg the Manchester low level route. The Notam feature of SkyDemon is also a superb time saver.

So I plan all but the simplest of trips on SkyDemon, and print out the plog, enroute charts, plates, weather, notams etc for reference in case the technology lets me down. I also print out the F214 and F215, and mark the wind on my old school paper chart and copy the SkyDemon route onto the chart too. All that planning relieves the key problem of excessive workload when you're in the air. To be really nerdy, I take the route onto my iPad and iPhone just in case, and also onto a Garmin 495. Hopefully with that and my aerial filing cabinet of paperwork all bases are covered!

So in short, the first flight I'd do little other than something you're completely familiar with, and enjoy it. Then on later flights try adding a bit more stress, maybe one thing at a time, and repeat so you gain confidence. But try to get your P1 experience up and avoid too much instructor time.

Last edited by Howard Long; 23rd Sep 2014 at 09:28.
Howard Long is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 16:41
  #22 (permalink)  

Do a Hover - it avoids G
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Chichester West Sussex UK
Age: 87
Posts: 2,206

Well done indeed. Very well done.

Your dream can now be reality. You have a day off, a license, access to an aeroplane, cash to spare and the weather is perfect so there is only one thing to do - get airborne. If the next thing that comes into your mind is “Where shall we go?” please give yourself 0/10 because, if you are serious about your aviation, the question you should be asking is “What do I need to do on this trip?” Furthermore, you will establish just what exercises you need to do by looking at your currency chart which is hanging on the wall in your bedroom.

Most GA pilots have no delusions about their abilities, they have no obsessive ambition to become aces, they just want to fly safely and enjoy flying as a hobby. The problem with that very reasonable stance is that aviation has to be worked at all the time and on every flight for it to remain accident free. To complicate things, the demands of any trip can vary enormously and be outside the control of the pilot. A routine circuit on a nice day is hardly the same as one where a fuel pipe lets go at 300 ft after takeoff and the engine cuts, although for the first 40 seconds they were identical.

There are two ways to deal with such serious emergencies. You can just put your faith in others, from the CAA to the engineer in the hangar, hoping they will protect you from a situation you cannot handle. Alternatively, you can be a little less fatalistic and do more training to reduce the odds stacked against you. Even without emergencies there are plenty of ways for pilots to finish up in charge of a bent aeroplane. If we are honest with ourselves, we also know that such events are avoidable if we plan properly and only operate inside our current levels of skill.

Those last eight words are at the heart of the issue I want to discuss here. If you accept this notion, which is hardly controversial, then we do need to try and be objective about our currency. Such objectivity requires a lot more information than traditionally appears in accident reports where currency is usually expressed simply as hours flown on type in the last 30 or 90 days. I am deeply suspicious of flying hours as a measure of currency or even of experience for that matter. What should matter is what the pilot did when airborne, not how long it all took.

Currency depends on what you do, not how long you take to do it. If you accept this, how should you decide what you need to do on this next trip? You get out your chart and look at where the biggest holes are in your currency. Doubtless you are asking yourself questions like how do you draw up the chart in the first place? Just what should go in it? How should you use the chart to reduce risk?

Let us split flying into pure and applied categories. Pure flying is about handling the aeroplane, making it go up and down, right and left and slower and faster. It is about taking off and landing in good weather conditions from an ample strip or runway. It is also about not stalling when we do this. However, every time we do such pure flying we cannot avoid certain risks that are inherent in being airborne.

On the other hand, applied flying is about what we choose to do with the aeroplane when we are airborne. This might be anything from a simple land away cross country to an instrument approach into Heathrow, from low level display flying to deliberately waiting until it is dark to do some circuits at night. All of this applied flying carries extra risks but my point is that such risks can be totally eliminated at a stroke for the amateur pilot by choosing not to do such stuff. However the pure flying risks remain. They are inevitable and can only be eliminated by not flying, something which by definition pilots find unacceptable. Therefore I want your chart to be the tool whereby you assess whether you are as skilled and current as you can be at pure flying and so as well placed as possible to minimise these risks.

There are three distinct things to do in constructing your own personal currency chart. Firstly you must make a list of exercises that you feel (know) you should practise. In the early days of your flying careers that list may include most of the PPL syllabus headings. Later, as you become more experienced, some items can be binned, although probably not that many if you are honest with yourself. Another way to look at the list is to ask yourself what things you would want to go and practise today if you were going to re-take your PPL skills test tomorrow. You should certainly include any exercise that you pray would not come up on your skills test!

The next thing is to decide just what maximum period there should be between the practices of all items on the list - 1 month, 2 months or whatever and note that interval in the second column. Then you want a column for each month, where you will fill in the date on which you carry out the actual practice. In no time at all, you will build up a very useful picture of just what you did with your recent time airborne.

The bottom line of all this is that currency training is important. If you don’t make time for such training and plan it in a systematic and thoughtful way, then you are letting yourself down and certainly increasing your chances of bending an aeroplane (or worse) when doing even the most basic pure flying, let alone the complex applied stuff.

Truth has a habit of coming out, however much some people try to hide it. The bit of truth I have in mind here is that today it is the light aircraft category that makes the greatest demands on piloting handling skills. Forget most modern military fast jets or modern airliners because they are all much easier to handle. I expect a lot of professional pilots will see red at that remark so I had better justify myself.

The operative word above is ‘handling’. Handling is about steering the aircraft through the sky which is quite a different thing from operating it. Modern fast jets and airliners are extremely complex devices to operate which is why their pilots have to undergo so much training and are then faced with never ending currency and rating checks throughout their careers. This operation of airliners involves navigating extremely complex air traffic environments, coping day in and day out with weather that would ground any light aircraft pilot and dealing with command pressures from a wide variety of sources. The operation of a modern military fast jet is again very demanding, indeed so demanding that it is beyond the abilities of the majority of the general population.

Despite how demanding the operational work of military and airline pilots may be, that does not mean the aircraft they fly are hard to handle. Indeed the opposite is true because quite properly the civil and military airworthiness authorities will only accept benign handling qualities precisely because they know their pilots will have their hands full operating the aircraft. There are of course exceptions to such generalisations, particularly among the older types still in service. Those aside, I maintain that light aircraft as a breed do call for more stick and rudder handling skills than most modern heavy metal. It bothers me that some GA pilots may underestimate the challenges they face every time they get airborne because they assume they are at the bottom of the aviation ladder. In fact they are at the top when it comes to handling which is another reason why currency is important for GA pilots.
John Farley is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 17:42
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Dark side of the Moon
Posts: 313
The bit of truth I have in mind here is that today it is the light aircraft category that makes the greatest demands on piloting handling skills.
The report on AF447 would bear out your observation, John. The "handling" abilities of relatively experienced ATPL pilots was called into question.

Fly-by-Wife is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 19:36
  #24 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: London
Posts: 326
However it is a licence to consolidate and learn, very similar to passing your driving test.

So I am a little worried that already you are thinking about your first cross country to Shoreham, navigating from VOR to VOR, or as suggested ditching all you have learnt and flying A to B using GPS before the ink on your map from your qualifying cross country has dried.

Either something has been lost in translation... but I believe this comment is not warranted.. but I will take it as constructive criticism.. I am not planing on ditching what I have learned.. I have merely given MY OPINION.. on what some feasible options may be and used this open forum to obtain suggestions as to what other fellow (and probably more experienced) aviators did after their PPL..

The list is by no means exhaustive that I posted and I can of course take friends and family up to Southend or Earls Cone, but we will end up sitting around and drinking a Coffee..

Why not do a VFR Navigation to Shoreham and have a walk long the coast?? I can fly using features and i know the Kent Area well also so confident I can get to Shoreham...

What am I going to achieve..?

I will still take a friend up and go slightly further afield to shoreham or other afield and a Landaway to Lydd combined or alternate Airfield..

I have not mentioned that I will use GPS.. I merely responded to the OP that I have equally heard good and bad things and asked for THEIR OPINION.

What I am interested in is LEARNING from experiences of other Aviators and also consolidating my own learning with the standards and basic techniques taught in the PPL...

The thread was not intended to be a debate on who likes GPS and who doesn't and I do not believe my OP does either.

Scoobster is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 19:55
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Mare Imbrium
Posts: 586
Scoobster - posts #13, #14 and #22 offer the advice I'd take if I were you.

And sadly far too many threads descend into arguments about the use or not of gps. You just have to get used to that.
Heston is offline  
Old 23rd Sep 2014, 20:18
  #26 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: London
Posts: 326
Scoobster - posts #13, #14 and #22 offer the advice I'd take if I were you.

And sadly far too many threads descend into arguments about the use or not of gps. You just have to get used to that
Thanks Heston. Certainly will take heed to the post numbers above. Invaluable advice from lots of angles.

Thank You everybody. Much appreciated
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Old 21st Oct 2014, 17:25
  #27 (permalink)  

Do a Hover - it avoids G
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Chichester West Sussex UK
Age: 87
Posts: 2,206

Check your PMs
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